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The Director of Disaster Management Services, Emergency Management Queensland, Brian Cox, sums up the situation with floods in Ipswich, Bundaberg, Gympie, Lockyer Valley and Brisbane. EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: In Brisbane we're joined by Brian Cox of Emergency Management Queensland.
Recovery of 17 more skeletal remains in the Kedar Valley, a year after thousands got swept away by floods in Uttarakhand on the night of June 16, 2013, has put the role of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) under sharp scrutiny. The scanner on agencies has become more prominent as NDRF managed to recover only 8 bodies of the 24 students who were washed away after the dam gates were opened in Beas River. Last Sunday, 24 students from a private college in Hyderabad and a co-tour operator Parahlad were washed away when Larji project authorities opened the floodgates of the dam without warning.
Dr Mahboob Alam, Director General of NDRF, however, differs and claims that they did a good job.
A month after the Uttarakhand disaster, NDMA’s vice-chairman M Shashidhar Reddy had saidthe responsibility to respond to any disaster is with the states, brushing aside the responsibility of NDMA which is under the direct control of the Prime Minister.
The Chief Minister is the head of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) and the Revenue Minister is the vice-chairman, while other ministers are members. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) presented its report on disaster preparedness in April, 2013. None of the major projects undertaken by the NDMA have been completed nor has the National Disaster Mitigation Fund been established. According to damages reported by the Uttarakhand government to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the flash floods in the state killed 580 people of which 249 bodies were recovered.
Early monsoon rains turned into flash floods and landslides in India, sending homes tumbling to the Ganges River and killing over 1,000 people so far. COMMUNITY PLANNING FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT r copyright sign, Oraim of natural oraim of natural oraim of community theirthe.


Residents of the area say that if the agencies had been more proactive, perhaps many more people could have been rescued. The bodies of the remaining 16 students and a tour operator are still missing even as the search operation has entered the eighth day. The report observed that a national plan for disaster management has not been formulated till date and there are no provisions to make guidelines issued by NDMA binding on state governments. The effectiveness of National Disaster Response Force has been hampered due to shortage of trained manpower and absence of appropriate training facilities, infrastructure and equipment. It is argued that close to 70,000 pilgrims were stranded in the region and the number of fatalities is over 5,000.
Can you tell us, Brian Cox, first up, what is the biggest challenge facing emergency services in Queensland at this point in time?BRIAN COX, DISASTER MGMT SERVICES, EMQ: The biggest change is making sure we've got the right people in the right place to respond to the ever-increasing flood levels that we're seeing at the moment. Even in the Beas tragedy, we are using the best technology, but there are problems like boulders and maintaining less water levels for a long time,” he added.
The Standard Operating Procedures for deployment of the NDRF have not been finalized and Communication systems for DM are not developed.
But obviously, as you just heard with the mayor, one of our biggest challenges today was actually putting together that evacuation. Critical equipment has not been procured and satellite-based communication network has not been developed.
Once we realised that those water levels could not be crossed by SES flood boats or swiftwater rescue crews, we immediately put together a team to actually get those air assets together. Class evading disasters beginscommunity planning aimcommunity planning and community planning .
We're also gonna have to consider helping the evacuation of the hospital itself, so there's some critical care patients we need to look at there.


They're actually spread everything from remote and isolated communities that have already been affected in the central areas, all the way down to as we're seeing the rises in Ipswich and then flowing on down to Warwick which we're planning for at the moment. So it's actually if you look at it and break the state up into three main areas; the northern part, we're dealing with the after-effects right now and the clean-up and the damage assessments for the reconstruction to begin. The local and the district groups have done a magnificent job in standing up to look after their own communities and we have just been responding to those urgent requests for assistance and we thank the Commonwealth for their support. Is that still the message?BRIAN COX: Only in those areas that are going to be affected by flood and you can't get out. How does that increase the risks to property and I guess obviously to people?BRIAN COX: Oh, look, absolutely, with rising floodwaters, you can't afford - people get caught or trapped into those at significant risk.
But also if you put crews in that particular environment, imagine the debris that's being swept down. We can't afford to put even the swiftwater rescue crews at risk as they go to rescue people. Have you seen any evidence of that so far?BRIAN COX: Oh, look, I haven't seen the houses being swept away, but I've certainly seen the impact on houses and the significant damage they've caused.
It's so widespread and fast-moving in this particular case, but we're not seeing the consistent rain in the same place causing those rivers to rise as we have done in previous years.



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